For generations the Hollywood cowboy was the most inspiring of manly men. Not even during the era of the singing cowboy did the American public doubt that the bespangled, yodeling fool on horseback was anything less than the kind of man who kept our nation strong. The kind of man who took us again and again to the mythic West where right was right and wrong was wrong.
No matter that The Great Train Robbery, the twelve-minute film that brought westerns to the fore in the U.S., was made in Milltown, New Jersey. No matter that the earliest Hollywood actors were men who'd plied their craft in Eastern dramas. Print the myth.
Only when the movies moved to California did real cowboys begin to appear in movies as extras, stunt men, advisors, actors and occasionally as huge stars. There was an informal community of these cowboys in Los Angeles. They had their own bars, nightspots, even living areas.
It is one of these transplanted cowboys, and former Texas Ranger and Pinkerton to boot, that L.J. Washburn writes about in her Shamus winning series about movie extra and private detective--Lucas Hallam.
In three novels and numerous short stories, Livia Washburn takes us back to not only the mythic West but also the Mythic Hollywood because Hallam finds himself involved in mysteries dealing with the first generation of Hollywood actors, directors and hangers-on.
And the books and stories have real bite. In Wild Night, for instance, Hallam is forced to defend an evangelist he doesn't like; an evangelist who'd fit right in with today's batch. With the history as backdrop, the storytelling tight and vivid as the early days of Black Mask, we watch Lucas solve some truly mysterious mysteries.
Livia brings warmth, wit, cleverness and real style to her books. These are now available on Amazon for $2.99 each. Treat yourself.
The Hallam Novels:
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Couldn't agree more. I read and reviewed the first and just finished the second. Note, they're in reverse order on your list and it would be better to read them in true order.
I think it's Wild Night, then Dead Stick, and lastly Dog Heavies. The latter isn't available on Kindle yet.
OK, Ed. With both you and the Cap'n recommending this one, who could resist?
Thanks Ed for the great blog post. As you may have guessed, I really love Lucas Hallam. Agent tried to get me to make him less tough, I got another agent instead. Dog Heavies is coming. I have it scanned and I'm going back through it in my spare time cleaning OCR errors.
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